AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review: The Mainstream Knockout – Tom’s Hardware

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AMD's Ryzen 5000 series CPUs have arrived, easily eclipsing Intel's competing chips and bringing a new level of performance to the desktop PC with the flagship Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X. With the complete disruption of Intel's high-end chips already well in hand, AMD's $300 Ryzen 5 5600X delivers a similarly stunning blow to Intel's mid-range lineup and slots in as the mainstream chip for gaming It even beats Intel's $488 halo Core i9-10900K in 1080p gaming.

The Ryzen 5 5600X takes the mid-range by storm withsix cores and twelve threads powered by the Zen 3 architecture fabbed on the 7nm process. That potent combination equates to a ~19% improvement in instruction per cycle (IPC) throughput, making the 5600X an easy choice for our list of Best CPUs.Other fine-grained improvements, like a vastly optimized boosting algorithm, improved memory overclocking, and reworked cache topology erases the last traces of Intels performance advantages while delivering a new level of power efficiency.In fact, as we'll detail below, the Ryzen 5 5600X is the most power-efficient desktop PC chip we've ever tested.

But with the changing of the guard on the performance front, AMD has also changed its pricing as it assumes the position of being the uncontested premium brand. The company has raised pricing by $50 on all of its new chips, and for enthusiasts, that has a disproportionate impact on the Ryzen 5 5600X: Much to the dismay of AMD fans, the entry-level pricing for a new Zen 3 processor is an uncomfortably-high $300. However, despite the poor reception to AMD's increased pricing, the Ryzen 5 5600X delivers more than enough performance to justify its price tag.

Much of Ryzens early success stemmed from industry-leading core counts and plenty of freebies for enthusiasts, like bundled coolers and unrestricted overclockability paired with broad compatibility. AMD still offers many of the same advantages, like unrestrained overclockability on all SKUs and most motherboards (the A-series is the lone exception), but has discarded bundled coolers for its Ryzen 9 and 7 processors. Luckily for entry-level buyers, the 65W Ryzen 5 5600X is the only Ryzen model that comes with a bundled cooler, and it's adequate for most users.

AMD also left a noticeable gap in its product stack you'll have to take a steep $150 step up the pricing ladder to get above the entry-level six-core twelve-thread Ryzen 5 5600X.AMD's premium pricing could be a disadvantage against Intel if a price war forms, but AMD's suggested selling prices rarely manifest at retail, and continuing shortages have found the chips selling far over recommended pricing. That makes it hard to predict how pricing will shake out over the next months.

According to our tests, the Ryzen 5600X delivers, though, beating Intel in nearly all metrics that matter, including performance, power consumption, and thermals, and largely removes Intels performance lead after overclocking. In fact, this $300 chip even beats Intel's pricey flagship Core i9-10900K in most single-threaded workloads, and that's after we overclock Intel's silicon. And yes, the 5600X's advantage over the 10900K includes 1080p gaming.You can take a broader look at how the full Zen 3 family stacks up against Comet Lake in our CPU Benchmark Hierarchy.

Meanwhile, Intel is left without a response until the first quarter of 2021 when its Rocket Lake chips blast off, bringing a new back-ported Cypress Cove architecture that grants a double-digit IPC increase paired with Intel's never-ending 14nm process.In the meantime, we can expect further deep price cuts from Intel in response, particularly as Zen 3 availability becomes more plentiful.

For now, the Ryzen 5 5600X cements AMD's Ryzen 5000 series as the uncontested performance leader in every price band it competes in. Let's take a closer look.

The Ryzen 5000 series processors come as four models that span from six cores and twelve threads up to 16 cores and 32 threads. AMD increased its Precision Boost clock rates across the board, with a peak of 4.9 GHz for the Ryzen 9 5950X.

Our Ryzen 9 5950X sample peaked at 5 GHz at stock settings, albeit sporadically, and reached 5.125 GHz after overclocking. We didn't have as much luck with our Ryzen 5 5600X sample as we did with the 5950X, but the 5600X frequently beat it's advertised 4.6 GHz boost clock with a 4.65 GHz boost on a single core.

AMD increased the boost clock speeds, but it also reduced base frequencies compared to the previous-gen processors. AMD says that if you top the chip with an adequate cooler, it will rarely (if ever) drop to the base frequency. We recorded many cases of a 4.55 GHz all-core boost with the Ryzen 5 5600X, which certainly wasn't possible with the previous-gen chips. We'll cover that more in-depth below.

The 6-core 12-thread $299 Ryzen 5 5600X's base clocks come in at 100 MHz less than the previous-gen 3600XT, while boosts are 100 MHz higher at 4.6 GHz. AMD's 6C/12T Ryzen 5 3600XT had a 95W TDP, but AMD dialed that back to 65W with the 5600X, showing that Zen 3's improved IPC affords lots of advantages. Despite the reduced TDP rating, the 5600X delivers explosive performance gains.

The Ryzen 5 5600X's $300 price tag establishes a new price band for a mainstream processor, so Intel doesn't have chips with nearly-identical pricing; the Core i5-10600K is the nearest Intel comparable. This chip carries a $262 price tag for the full-featured model, while the graphics-less 10600KF weighs in at $237.

Intel's Core i7-10700K also isn't nearly as fast as the 5600X in gaming and lightly-threaded work, and overclocking doesn't change the story in any meaningful way. It does have two additional cores that might make it a compelling value alternative for content creation-focused tasks, but its $375 price tag makes that an iffy proposition. You're better off stepping up another Ryzen tier.

But AMD does have a glaring hole in its product stack: You'll have to shell out an extra $150 to step up from the $300 6C/12T Ryzen 5 5600X to the $450 8C/16T Ryzen 7 5800X, which is a steep jump. Based upon product naming alone, it appears there is a missing Ryzen 7 5700X in the stack, but it remains to be seen if AMD will actually bring such a product to market.

As before, AMD only guarantees its boost frequencies on a single core, and all-core boosts will vary based on the cooling solution, power delivery, and motherboard BIOS. The Ryzen 5 5600X is the only Ryzen 5000 chip that comes with a bundled cooler, and we found that the Wraith Spire delivers enough thermal headroom for most workloads, but you'll get a boost from better cooling in heavily-threaded workloads. You also shouldn't expect any meaningful overclocking headroom with the Wraith Spire cooler. More on that below.

The Ryzen chips continue to expose 20 lanes of PCIe 4.0 to the user and stick with DDR4-3200 memory as the base spec. However, if the silicon lottery shines upon you, we found that the chips offer much better memory overclocking due to improved fabric overclocking capabilities.

These chips drop into existing AM4 motherboards with 500-series chipsets, like X570, B550, and A520 models. AMD says it will also add support for 400-series motherboards starting in Q1, 2021, but that comes with a few restrictions. Regardless, some motherboard vendors have jumped ahead and are already offering support on 400-series motherboards, so that initiative is well underway. Just remember that you'll lose support for the PCIe 4.0 interface on those older motherboards.

We've covered AMD's Zen 3 microarchitecture more in-depth in our Ryzen 9 5950X and 5900X review. The highlight reel is that AMD has unified its L3 cache into one 32MB contiguous cluster, which vastly reduces memory latency, thus boosting performance in latency-sensitive workloads, like gaming.

AMD leverages its existing Ryzen SoC for the 5000 series chips. Zen 3 uses the same 12nm I/O Die (IOD) paired with either one or two 8-core chiplets (CCD) in an MCM (Multi-Chip Module) configuration. For the Ryzen 5 5600X, the chip comes with one CCD with six cores enabled, while CPUs with 12 or 16 cores come with two chiplets.

The IOD still contains the same memory controllers, PCIe, and other interfaces that connect the SoC to the outside world. Just like with the Matisse chips, the IOD measures ~125mm^2 and has 2.09 billion transistors.

The chiplets have been redesigned, however, and now measure ~80.7mm^2 and have 4.15 billion transistors. That's slightly larger than Zen 2's CCDs with ~74mm^2 of silicon and 3.9 billion transistors. For more details of the magic behind the 19% increase in IPC, head here.

We've included our test system breakdown at the end of the article, and we also have the frequency, boost, and thermal testing following the gaming and application testing below. Be sure to check those sections out.

Much like their previous-gen predecessors, the Ryzen 5000 series processors rarely achieve all-core overclocks that exceed the single-core boost frequency, so manual all-core overclocking results in less performance in lightly-threaded tasks. As such, we stuck with AMD's Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO), which boosts performance in multi-core workloads while maintaining the high single-core boost clocks.

We've had great results with memory overclocking with the Ryzen 5000 series. However, while motherboard firmware is solid for stock and general overclocking use, it is still very much a work in progress for fabric overclocking. That impacts the peak memory frequencies you can attain while still using the 1:1:1 fclk/uclk/mclk ratio that provides the best results.

We've reached DDR4-4000 with a 2000 MHz fabric with other Ryzen 5000 processors, but we're limited to a 1900 MHz fabric speed for the Ryzen 5 5600X. As such, we dialed in DDR4-3800 at 16-16-16-36 timings for our 5600X PBO configuration, and we dialed up the CCD and IOD voltage to 1.15V to stabilize the fabric frequency.We also tried overclocking with the Wraith Spire cooler, but were utterly unsuccessful. Plan on investing in a better cooler if you're interested in overclocking.

We conducted all of our testing on the latest stable version of Windows 10 Pro (2004 build 19041.450) with the newest versions of each benchmark - with the exception of Cinebench R23 and v-ray 5, both of which launched last week. We're already building out those results, which we'll add in an update (soon).

As a side note, there has been a surprising amount of coverage about the advantages of dual-rank over single-rank memory lately, but this is a known quantity. In fact, AMD itself revealed this in 2017, and we backed that up with our own testing for the Ryzen 3000 series last year. Yes, Ryzen continues to respond well to dual-rank memory and performance improves. Spoiler Alert: Similar gains apply to Intel chips, too. Our memory guru is conducting a round of testing on the new Ryzen 5000 and Intel chips with different ranks, stay tuned.

Here you can see the geometric mean of our gaming tests at 1080p and 1440p, with each resolution split into its own chart.We tested with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 to reduce the impact of graphics-imposed bottlenecks. You'll find the game-by-game breakdowns below.

We tested the Ryzen 5 5600X with both the bundled Wraith Stealth cooler (marked as HSF in the charts above) and the Corsair H115i 280mm liquid cooler (AIO) to measure the difference in gaming. As you can see, less than 1% separates the two coolers in gaming (those deltas are larger in our application testing), so we only included the tests with the H115i in the game-by-game breakdown below. Overall, the Wraith Spire cooler provides the same level of gaming performance in our test suite as the beefier AIO cooler.

For those leery of the Ryzen 5 5600X's $300 price tag, look no further than Intel's 10900K to see AMD's justification. On a price-to-performance basis, the $300 Ryzen 5 5600X absolutely wrecks Intel's halo $490 Core i9-10900K in our 1080p gaming suite. The 5600X even takes away the absolute performance crown, too. The 10900K is a bit more impressive in our 1440p suite, but not by much - it trails the 5600X at stock settings, and overclocking the 10900K only yields a scant 1 fps 'advantage.' Which is to say the chips are effectively tied.

The 5600X is even more impressive compared to chips in its price range. At stock settings, the Ryzen 5 5600X beats the stock Core i5-10600K in both 1080p and 1440p gaming by ~25% and 13%, respectively, both significant gains. Overclocking the Core i5-10600K to 5.0 GHz doesn't help - the Intel chip still trails the stock 5600X by 7% at 1080p and effectively ties the 5600X at 1440p. As you would expect, overclocking the 5600X (PBO) yields an even larger advantage over the overclocked Intel chip.

The $300 Ryzen 5 5600X is $35 more expensive than the Core i5-10600K, though, so we turn to Intel's higher-end alternative, the $375 Core i7-10700K, to see how it fares against the 5600X. If gaming is your primary goal, paying $75 more for the 10700K than the 5600X is a waste of money. The stock 5600X beats the stock 10700K by 15% at 1080p, and ~8% at 1440p. Overclocking the 10700K doesn't help, either the stock 5600X ties the overclocked 10700K at 1080p and trails by a mere 3 fps at 1440p. Overclocking the Ryzen 5 5600X gives it the lead over the pricey 10700K silicon.

Finally, if you step up a tier to the $450 Ryzen 7 5800X, you won't get much extra over the 5600X, at least as far as gaming is concerned. The Ryzen 5 5600X matches the overclocked Ryzen 7 5800X at both stock and overclocked settings in both resolutions, making it the new mainstream gaming champ.

One thing of note - the bottom four entrants of each chart cover AMD's previous four generations of Ryzen 5 processors. Impressively, the Ryzen 5 5600X notches the largest performance delta over its immediate predecessor than any other Ryzen processor.

We run these synthetic gaming tests as part of our main application test script. We use an RTX 2080 Ti for these tests to facilitate faster testing, but we use an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 for all other gaming benchmarks (we don't include these tests in the preceding cumulative measurements).

As we've come to expect, AMD's core-heavy processors dominate in threaded synthetic tests, like the Stockfish chess engine and 3DMark's DX11 and DX12 CPU benchmarks. The stock Core i5-10600K can't hang with the stock Ryzen 5 5600X, and even overclocking the 10600K doesn't allow it to keep pace in the DX11 and Stockfish tests. The overclocked 10600K does scrape past the 5600X in the DX12 CPU test, which leverages threading more effectively than the 3DMark DX11 benchmark.

As one would expect, the Core i7-10700K and Ryzen 7 5800X both lead the Ryzen 5 5600X in the DX12 and Stockfish tests, a byproduct of their higher core counts, but those gains don't translate well (if at all) to the real-world gaming tests below.

Perhaps the Ryzen 5000 processors are most impressive in VRMark. This benchmark leans heavily on per-core performance (a mixture of IPC and frequency), and as you can see from the previous-gen Ryzen processors, AMD has traditionally trailed in this benchmark.The Ryzen 5 5600X corrects that issue as it reaches the upper echelons of the chart, beating even the overclocked 10700K and 10600K by 20% and 8%, respectively but that's with the 5600X at stock settings. Overclocking the Ryzen 5 5600X yields a 24% and 14% advantage, respectively, over the tuned Intel processors.

AMD says that the Ryzen 5000 processors offer leading performance in a large number of titles. However, there will likely still be a period of time before we see targeted game updates to expose the best of Ryzen 5000, just like we saw with previous-gen Zen chips, so the gains don't apply to all titles.

The Core i5-10600K trails the Ryzen 5 5600X by 4.6 fps at 1080p and 2.8 fps at 1440p. Overclocking the Ryzen 5 5600X delivers small gains at both resolutions, while the 10600K profits more from its 5.0 GHz clock speed, thus taking the lead in both benchmarks.

Far Cry 5 finds the Ryzen 5 5600X beating the Core i5-10600K across the board in both 1080p and 1440p benchmarks and by significantly impressive margins. The Core i7-10700K also lags the 5600X significantly at stock settings, but effectively ties the 5600X after overclocking. Given the higher up-front pricing and pricey components needed to extract the best of the 10700K's overclocking prowess, the tie actually isn't very impressive.

Again, a quick glance at the previous-gen Ryzen models, all of which populate the bottom of these charts, highlights the explosive performance gains of the Zen 3 architecture. AMD has come a long way since the 1600X, which was the first Ryzen 5 chip to hit the market.

Hitman 2 doesn't seem to scale well from 1080p to 1440p, at least not at the heightened fidelity settings we use for the benchmark. We stuck with the 1080p test for this title because the same trends carry over to 1440p.

The Ryzen 5000 processors dominate this benchmark - even the mighty Core i9-10900K, propelled by a prodigious amount of voltage and heat to 5.1 GHz, can't match the overclocked Ryzen 5000 processors. Perhaps more impressively, the stock Ryzen 5 5600X beats all the Intel chips at stock settings, and ties the overclocked 10700K.

We're just as excited as anyone else about Microsoft's long long-overdue release of Flight Simulator, and we're sure that serious flight sim fans will want to crank up the resolution on this title. Hence our tests at 1440p, which typically bring graphics bottlenecks into play. Expect these deltas to widen with 1080p testing.

Impressively, the stock $300 Ryzen 5 5600X beats the stock Core i5-10600K and i7-10700K and matches Intel's halo $490 Core i9-10900K. Turning the overclocking knobs on the Ryzen 5 5600X only cements its lead - the chip beats all of the Intel competition after overclocking, too.

Meanwhile, the Ryzen 7 5800X ekes out a small win over the 5600X at stock settings, but overclocking both chips yields an effective tie. Looking at this through the price-vs-performance prism, the Ryzen 5 5600X is the undisputed champ.

Project CARS 3 scales well with additional host compute, and the title obviously responds well to the Zen 3 architecture.

The stock Ryzen 5 5600X beats the Intel competition handily at the 1080p resolution. Again, we see the trend of the power-sipping stock Ryzen 5 5600X easily trouncing the overclocked Intel processors. The 5600X even scales well after tuning, propelling it near the top of the chart.

The trends we see at 1080p largely transfer over to the 1440p resolution, but the GPU bottleneck becomes apparent. Here the overclocked 10900K takes a slight edge, but the delta between it and the stock 5600X is fairly meaningless - you certainly won't notice a little over 1 fps of difference. The looming graphics bottleneck also restricts the 5600X's scaling with overclocking.

A glance at the bottom of these charts shows the clear progression of AMD's architectures as it iterated on the Zen design. Still, in most of the titles we tested, the Ryzen 5000 series represents AMD's biggest generational leap by far.

Again, we see no-compromise 1080p gaming performance with the 5600X - even the heavily-overclocked Intel processors can't overcome the advantages of the Zen 3 architecture paired with the 7nm process. A graphics bottleneck forms in the 1400p testing, but the 5600X still carves out a win over the Intel processors.

AMD's chips take a sizeable lead at 1080p, but Intel's overclocked chips deliver better 99th-percentile measurements. Flipping over to 1440p, Intel's 10900K reaches the top of the chart, but it took quite a bit of voltage for it to surpass the stock Ryzen 5000 chips.

This geometric mean of both the most lightly- and heavily-threaded tests in our application suite speak volumes. We're quite accustomed to seeing AMD's chips lead in the multi-threaded rankings while trailing, sometimes by sizeable margins, in the single-threaded performance ranking. That isn't the case anymore, and Zen 3 easily leads both rankings.

Again, we tested the Ryzen 5 5600X throughout our test suite with both a Corsair H115i water cooler (marked as AIO in the charts above) and the bundled Wraith Stealth cooler (HSF). As we saw in our gaming tests, there is little to no difference between single-threaded performance with the two coolers, but we see a bigger difference in our threaded applications. We recorded a 4% boost to performance with the H115i in our cumulative measure, but it's important to note that this delta varies based on workload. The deltas range from 1% to 8% (worst case in one workload - y-cruncher), but to keep the charts clean, we've charted performance with our H115i cooler throughout the rest of the application testing.

However, regardless of the cooler, one thing remains true - the Ryzen 5 5600X easily beats the 10600K in threaded applications and even challenges the 10700K that comes with two more cores and a $75 premium, making the 5600X a solid bang-for-your-buck for heavy applications. If you need more performance and want to step up a tier, the Ryzen 7 5800X provides a solid boost through its additional two cores.

Moving over to the single-threaded performance rankings really highlights the 5600X's strengths - the stock Ryzen 5 5600X beats the full roster of Intel chips, including the Core i9-10900K, in our ranking - and that's even after we overclock the Intel chips to the limits of their 14nm silicon. The stock Ryzen 5 5800X is a nice step up from the 5600X for lightly threaded work, but overclocking both chips yields a small 1.5% advantage for the Ryzen 7 5800X. That isn't a difference you'll feel in any lightly threaded app, making the Ryzen 5 5600X the price-to-performance champ for lightly-threaded work, too.

Read more from the original source:

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Review: The Mainstream Knockout - Tom's Hardware

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